Advances in medicine have led to shorter hospital stays for patients struggling with a chronic illness. However, when patients leave the hospital, there is still a desire for professional medical guidance and consultation while patients manage their chronic illness at home.
Tomopiia provides short-term, fee-based consultative support from nurses. With this venture, patients can gain a more personalized care plan and support system to manage their chronic illness, all without leaving their home.
Founder Junichiro Shigemura Celebrates Personal and Professional Growth as Tomopiia Looks to Revolutionize At-Home Healthcare
An important characteristic among entrepreneurs is the willingness to be brave and make decisions even if they’re not completely confident that the decision made is the right one. This doesn’t mean taking uncalculated risks; rather, it means looking a problem straight in the eye and finding the opportunity within it.
Tomopiia is a venture that is aimed at helping patients with chronic illnesses track their care and communicate directly with nurses from their homes. This idea began incubation early in 2020, just when COVID-19 began to spread globally. EIR Junichiro Shigemura had wanted to build his network of doctors and nurses by connecting with hospitals directly, but this was not possible during the pandemic. Junichiro had to rethink his approach and proceed to build his venture in a new way.
“The pandemic opened up a whole new world for me to connect to others and new people, new doctors and new nurses virtually,” said Junichiro. “I was able to connect with nurses globally; some were in Hong Kong, Italy, and even the United States. Connecting with nurses globally wouldn’t have been possible if the world was not fully remote. It was interesting and exciting. I thought, ‘this change is a chance.’ The pandemic is terrible and it isolated people. But for me and for my business, it opened up a new window of opportunity.”
This new opportunity became even more apparent when patients became hesitant to visit doctor’s offices and hospitals during the pandemic. Patients with chronic illnesses who had been discharged from the hospital were still seeking advice and regular check-ins from medical professionals. Tomopiia met that need by providing short-term, fee-based consultative support from nurses. Through this service, patients could now gain a more personalized care plan and support system without having to leave their homes.
“The pandemic provided me many new opportunities. The Japanese medical market is a very closed and conservative market. Doctors and hospitals are reluctant to partner elsewhere or start their own practices. Now, there are new policies that take into account telemedicine and remote access to healthcare that gives new access to all sorts of patients. It’s the perfect chance to change a system and provide a new service to patients.”
Junichiro’s optimism and expansive empathy as an entrepreneur is inspiring. After meeting with countless patients, doctors, nurses, and others associated with the hospital industry, he was able to create a platform that allowed for longer-term care. Tomopiia released their MVP in April 2021 and has been actively onboarding new nurses and patients to join the platform. This rapid growth has evolved how Junichiro views himself and what’s important to him as leader of a venture.
“Entrepreneurship is a winding road. In my opinion, as an entrepreneur, I have to decide many things throughout developing a project. There are so many options to choose from, but I have to be confident in what I choose, making just one decision at a time. In Mitsui, I always knew the goal. But as an entrepreneur, I have to create the goals myself. I have to be creative to find the answers and the path to accomplishing goals. I have to be a lighthouse for my team, with my principles and vision guiding my partners and team forward.”
When asked what the most important quality an entrepreneur should have, Junichiro answered, “A resilient founder always has principles. If you have principles, you can change, adapt, and move forward through pressures and troubles. If you know your principles, you can solve just about any problem that comes up.”
Shigemura is quick to recognize that his success is not only his. He frequently shares gratitude for his team, nurses, customers, and all of those who have helped inspire, and mentor him throughout his journey. While he is guiding the vision, its the people who make Tomopiia successful that he considers his extended team.
“Before, I thought I could do everything by myself. But one person alone isn’t enough. When a team has goals and skills that complement each other, then the leader can have principles and show the vision to delegate to their staff. A solid team is the most important thing. It is essential to have companions who are committed to sharing goals together. Ideas are important of course. But the team is the most important.”
“My Moon Mates give me inspiration and many opportunities to think about new perspectives. For example, Chiyun Yeh (Yo) gives me many things, not only on design, but her perspective and personal opinion. Many of my colleagues and Moon Mates give me inspiration. Moon’s CEO, Kaichi, is my senpai - he gives me good advice. I’m a very lucky man.“
Due to the overwhelmingly positive response in the first round of user testing, Tomopiia is currently in their second round of collecting applications from potential users. You can learn more and even register for yourself at: www.tomopiia.com
“Connecting with nurses globally wouldn’t have been possible if the world was not fully remote. It was interesting and exciting. I thought, ‘this change is a chance.’”
Junichiro Shigemura Healthcare Service Business Unit Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
Chiyun (Yo) Yeh Makiko Suzuki Masao Fujii Sho Nonaka (Nonasho) Ted Ko
Mary Ann Gallo
Where Tomopiia is today:
Conducting additional user testing, expanding nursing network.